Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's bid to win more control over the Los Angeles Unified School District cleared one of its last remaining hurdles late Tuesday as the state Assembly approved enabling legislation over the objections of School District officials.

The Assembly voted 42-20 to approve AB 1381, carried by Assembly Speaker Fabian Nu & #324;ez and Senate Majority Leader Gloria Romero, both Los Angeles area Democrats. The vote followed Monday's state Senate approval of the measure.

The bill now goes to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger for his signature; he has previously indicated he intends to sign the legislation. The bill has drawn support from the Los Angeles area business community.

But school district officials have indicated they might sue to prevent the measure from taking effect; such a lawsuit could tie the law up for years.
The reform bill would overhaul the governing structure of the Los Angeles Unified School District, creating a Council of Mayors to make major policy decisions and giving more power to the school superintendent. Both moves would reduce the power of the elected School Board.

Tuesday's vote capped a six-month effort by Villaraigosa to deliver on a campaign promise to assert mayoral control over the troubled Los Angeles school district, the second largest in the nation.

"Today, both houses of the Legislature are in agreement that we need fundamental reform in our schools," Villaraigosa said. "Make no mistake, this is a milestone that comes but once in a generation. We have brought parents, teachers, and community leaders together around the idea that we can and must do better for our children."

Nu & #324;ez called the legislation "a momentous step toward improving school achievement and creating a brighter future for our children."

But school district officials opposed the legislation, saying that by dispersing power among both a school board and a council of mayors it blurs lines of accountability. Superintendent Roy Romer said legislators caved to political pressure to pass the bill.

"Today's vote was a disappointing display of politics triumphing over good public policy," said Romer, who served 12 years as the Governor of Colorado. "Legislators are on the record saying they voted for AB 1381, despite its many flaws, because of arm-twisting by the party leadership. The state's own legal analysts have repeatedly warned that the bill is unconstitutional. I urge Governor Schwarzenegger to seriously weigh these concerns before acting on AB 1381."

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